God is working his purpose out!

Bishop Julian writes that Almighty God is the Lord of history and that He is working his purpose out even when we cannot fathom his ways.
As one calendar year closes and another year dawns we are given the opportunity to pause and reflect on God’s work in our lives and in the world. As light dawns on 2016, our world is engulfed with tragedy and conflicts. At least 36 deaths in Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee as a result of unprecedented Christmas weather conditions. Although under pressure in some regions, ISIS threatens the continued existence of Christians in Syria and Iraq. In Nigeria, Boko Haram has killed  more people than those who died in the entire ebola epidemic.  It could be said that respect for God, respect for property and respect for life are at an all time low.

However, the word of God continues to speak into the circumstances of our world.  In the late 7th century B.C., God spoke through the prophecy of Habakkuk into a world which draws many comparisons to global circumstances which confront us at the dawn of 2016.

Look among the nations, and see;
wonder and be astounded.
For I am doing a work in your days
that you would not believe if told.   Habakkuk 1:5

 As the dawn breaks on a new year, consider these insights from Habakkuk chapter 1 verse 5.

1. Look at the ‘big picture’. History will be God’s story. If we only look at ourselves, at our nation, our people, our church, our denomination then we will miss what God is doing upon the face of the earth.

2. Look for a big surprise.  We so often limit God through our own thought processes.  We allow our culture and personal circumstances to be the filters through which we study the Bible.  In verse 5, God says Habakkuk will be astounded!

3. God will do something ‘in our lifetime’. In verse 5 God reassured Habakkuk that He will act and He will act during Habakkuk’s lifetime. Anyone can believe in God, what we must each decide is, do we believe that God will do what He says He will do in His Word?  If we believe that God will act according to His word, then we have faith in Him.

4. God can and will act in a manner beyond our imagination.  Habakkuk is told by God in verse 5 that He would not believe what God was about to do, even if God told him beforehand!  The apostle Paul writes in Ephesians chapter 3, “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

5. God is already at work.  In verse 5, Habakkuk is told that God is already at work.  In verse 6, God describes how He has chosen to work and Habakkuk is surprised. From this we learn that God is at work to will and to act according to his purpose and not ours!  

In his 19th century hymn “God is working his purpose out” which was dedicated to the Archbishop of Canterbury and first published in the Hymn Book of the Church Missionary Society in 1899, author Arthur Campbell Ainger provides a clear testimony that God is the Lord of history, that he “is working his purposes out”  even when we cannot fathom his way.

May God’s eternal faithfulness encourage us to stand firm in the faith and be strong whatever circumstances we encounter throughout 2016 and beyond.

God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
whose years never fail and whose mercies are new each returning day:
let the radiance of your Spirit renew our lives,
warming our hearts and giving light to our minds;
that we may pass the coming year
in joyful obedience and firm faith;
through him who is the beginning and the end, your Son, Christ our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.